By Rich Lindbloom
Back in the early 70’s when I attended Hillcrest H. S., we used a phrase when we were about to drop the gloves so to speak. You and your adversary would bump into each other and at least one of the combatants would exclaim, “Bumping it up it up, Jack.” It was the hockey equivalent of “Do you want to dance?” I recall Rick (Andy) Anderson and Ronnie (Spooky) Williams bumping it up on the way to a high school basketball game, in the back of the bus. Who says basketball is a non contact sport!
During Wednesday’s battle with a surging Calgary team, Brent Seabrook played with such might and force he resembled an air craft carrier. Brent was bumping it up with anything that crossed his path. “I’m a steam roller baby, I’ll roll right over you,” appeared to be his game plan. Before you go pointing out that Seabrook is Canadian and wouldn’t have a US aircraft carrier named after him, get a clue. You think the Hawks meeting with President Obama next week is a formality? The President is going to announce the commissioning of our newest aircraft carrier. Do you really think the Taliban wants to see the USS Brent Seabrook cruising their way – Forget about it! The pirates in Somalia are already thinking about taking up fishing as a occupation.
The cantankerous Seabrook especially impressed me the way he cleared out the crease after the whistle blew. It’s about time someone else besides Kopecks gets a facial for lingering around the net. I was a bit surprised when I asked Chris Block what he thought about signing Seabrook about 3 weeks ago. Basically he said the #7 car was worth every cent of $5 million for what he brought to the blue line. When you think about it, unless Scott is pressed into emergency duty, he’s the only really physical d-man we have.
As I recall, Chris also said they might be able to sign him for three years, but most likely it will take a 5 year contract to “git er done.” Although for the most part Laurel and Hardy have been split up during our winning streak, any of us who have followed the Hawks the last four years would have a hard time seeing Keith or our Rear Admiral in a sweater other than the one with the Indian on it. Well, with the possible exception of the fan who will eternally torment Sam Fels.
There were a few more Hawks on Wednesday that followed Seabs bombastic approach to the game. Dave Bolland actually threw two bone jarring checks, managing to walk away relatively unscathed. In fact if it weren’t for Stalberg, The Rat would have been my first pick for the games “Bumping it up, Jack” award that night. In a page out of the Versteegian haymaker days, Stalberg tried to open up a can of whoop-ass on Giordano. I’d like to say Giordano never knew what hit him, but I’m not sure Stal’s landed any punches. Thankfully, he was pretty good at ducking out of the way of Giordano’s heat seeking missiles. I can’t recall a fight where so many punches were thrown without making contact. If Viktor continues to pursue his pugilistic ways he might want to spend a little time slap boxing with John Scott after practice. Regardless of the outcome of the skirmish, Stalberg has been an integral part of our winning streak despite being banished to our fourth line. Go Stals, Go!
Actually, there hasn’t much difference between Frolik/Dowell/Brouwer and Stalberg/Johnson/Kopecky, with Coach Q rolling all four lines. Remember earlier in the season when for some unknown reason Scott, Hendry and Boynton were given auditions on the fourth line? Unlike John Lennon’s query at the end of the Beatles song Get Back, they did not pass the audition. Do you think we might have given a few points away during our experimental stages this season? I recall when the Hawks picked up Ryan Johnson; Brad Lee of the St. Louis Gametime mentioned this was not particularly good news for the Blues. In the last 5 games the #17 car has gone 53-25 from the face off dot – that’s insane. As Bartl noticed in his Boxing section, on a salary vs. benefit comparison, Johnson has perhaps been the Hawks most productive player – especially given the scoring slump Toews has gone into the last two games. (Only one point per game Captain? Pick it up a notch ya slackard!)
On the subject of the “MVP!” chants, I was going to tell you to stop all that nonsense. Remember last year what Toews and Keith did to our salary cap when they won the Conn Smythe and Norris trophies? They added over $4 million dollars to the Cap dilemma we faced this past summer. The good news is I checked with Chris Block of the thethirdmanin.com and he told me the MVP or the Calder, if Crawford continues his miserly ways between the pipes, would have no effect on next year’s Salary Cap. I’m not sure Toews is aware of this, which could have something to do with recent decline to a point per game production. Pick it up Jonny boy! Seriously though, what a run for Captain Marvel.
Killion from secondcityhockey.com wrote a nice pregame report the other day – I believe before the Calgary game. He noted, “we’ve gone from must win to must win to absolutely must win.” He then said “The playoffs actually could be a letdown this year,” after all we’ve been through. As “the little old lady from Pasadena” (RoseLee Deutsch) noted, there was a palpable excitement before the Calgary game. “From the parking lot, to the standing room(only crowd), the U. C. was really jumping. The crowd was more exciting than I have heard this year… even the wonderful anthem was more deafening than ever,” noted RoseLee. This season is starting to resemble Toews and Kane’s rookie year when we were scrambling to make the playoffs and every game was a nail biter.
I don’t want to get my hopes too high – 8 game winning streaks tend to obfuscate reality. We’re still only 5 points ahead of the 11th place team in the Western Conference. However, is it just me or have some of you started to consider the possibility of catching the Wings? Sort of a shift from looking back to looking forward. As Satchel Paige once put it, “Never look back, something may be gaining on you.” Our last two games of the year are against the Commie dogs from Mo-town. Do I think we’re going to keep winning at the current rate? – No. Yet this Hawk team seems to be peaking at the right moment. Could we be destined for a “Miracle Mets,” type finish this year? A lot of the right cards seem to be falling into our hands. Lately Jonathan Toews has trumped any card laid down by our scrambling adversaries. He’s not in Chuck Norris’s category yet – the last person to try to trump a Chuck Norris card died instantly from a round house kick to the head.
A couple of other trump cards that we now have in our hand were the result of some great moves made by Stan Bowman. I know a lot of you like to point out that he got the job because of Scotty Bowman – there certainly is the appearance of truth to that assessment. Besides, getting the benefit of Scotty Bowman’s hockey sense is not necessarily a bad thing. Whoever made the move, getting Leddy for Barker, Frolik for Skille and now Campoli for Potulny (and a 2nd rounder) have been a home run, a double and a legged out triple. Campoli seems to fit in like an old shoe.
I’ve been a Hendry supporter all year and wish Jordan a speedy recovery. No one on the Hawks out hustled #6. Sometimes I lay in bed and wonder how many more points we might have right now if Hendry would have been in the lineup the first two months of the season. That being said – Campoli appears to be an upgrade, even if he isn’t the lumbering, physical d-man so many were clamoring for. “We need someone to kick ass out there,” is the all too familiar refrain. More of a cruiser than an aircraft carrier – welcome aboard #14. Leddy, who continues to be scrutinized by the all seeing eye of Mordor, has acquitted himself admirably as Keith’s backdoor man. Just remember, one of you two knuckleheads needs to stay back!
The eyebrows that ate Chicago, Michael Frolik, appear to be a “slight” upgrade from Jack Skille. You can call me delusional but I appreciated what Black Jack brought to the ice every time he laced them up. It appears that #67 has more offensive skills – his assist to Toews in the Calgary game was Hossa like. He also appears to have a little sniper in him, as witnessed on his goal in that game after a tremendous feed from Jake Dowell. The Hawks really missed a golden opportunity to mess with Michaels mind though. When he scored, the first thing that entered my mind was for the team to ignore him when he came to the bench – like they do in baseball when a rookie goes yard. Where’s Burr-dog when you need him? Indeed # 67, “When puck goes in the net, feels good.”
Two last observations; for those of you who peruse the secondcityhockey website, you may recall “Black Friday.” That was when Sam officially declared the season over after a surprising Bluejacket team seemingly crushed our playoff hopes. He finally had enough and was about to turn his attention to the Cubs. (Out of the frying pan and into the fire?) I recall when the Sox won the World Series in 2005, with about 3 weeks to go in the season saying, “That’s it, I’m done hoping we’ll make the playoffs. We kept losing to teams like Kansas City in must win games and I finally jumped off the band wagon. This defection was pointed out by my co-worker Mary Lou throughout the playoffs, as I joyfully jumped back on the wagon when we snuck into the playoffs the last weekend of the season. We all know how that one turned out! Kudo’s to Sam for reaching the breaking point – you’ve single handedly turned the season around.
Sam also said something last year that I thought about recently. After a wrap up of a game last February he said something like, “Frankly, it’s hard to get excited about a lot of these games.” When your 20 some games above .500, the sense of urgency doesn’t’ start until the second week in April. Say what you will about this season, but for about two months now it seems like every game we watch is played with playoff intensity. If Toews gets any more intense he may self implode. As was noted about Chuck Norris, Toews doesn’t do pushups, he pushes the earth down.
Did you notice how he tried to destroy that panel of plexi-glass when he decided to check it after his second goal in Calgary? After he blasted it, he looked at the panel with utter disdain. He appeared to be seriously upset it didn’t disintegrate, as he scowled at it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the #19 car actually tried to trump a Chuck Norris card. That might be the only time Toews looks back – when he hears the whooshing sound of a round house kick to the helmet. Bring it on Chucky boy!
Bumping it up, Jack.